Tractor company John Deere recently dropped $305 million to acquire Northern California-based startup Blue River. Instead of ride-on mowers and the like, Blue River builds machines that eliminates invasive plants on farms.
Wired reports that Blue River’s robots have the ability to identify many kinds of weeds, and shoot herbicide at them with deadly accuracy, not unlike T-800 in Terminator (enjoy that visual). This method rids farmers of the traditional “blind sweeping” of chemicals over crops, and could also save farmers money spent on pesticides as it uses much less.
Like the current pesticide system, the robots are dragged along behind a tractor and use cameras and learning software to weed out invasive plants.
Blue River has also created a machine called LettuceBot, which is tailored to the crop and can detect plants that are too small or sprouting on top of each other, both of which can negatively affect yield. According to Wired, the bot’s already being used in 10% of America’s lettuce farms. The company’s now developing software that will do the same for corn.